All in all, 2017 was a good year to us (no surgeries! Italy! Travel! Chaos!). Compared with the previous couple years, it was just what we needed, a vast plain. Very few valleys. We would’ve taken some mountain tops, but I was totally content to just put on cruise control for a hot minute and just be. Sometimes I feel like I’m faring pretty darn well if I’m only just cruising…and that’s ok!
Elena ended her first year of Kindergarten, and then began another year of Kindergarten, ha! Calvin continued to be my little helper and keeps us all laughing. Turner celebrated his first birthday and took his first steps. Chad and I had our 8th anniversary and felt pretty pleased with ourselves, surviving a year with three kids. We kept everyone alive. He may have lost a few more hairs and I have, perhaps, a few more wrinkles. But, the Hinton family always feels grateful reflecting upon another year past and ALWAYS looks forward to the next with hope of what we will achieve, what we will make it through, and the memories we will make along the way.
I’m a planner by nature so I like to visualize the year ahead, think about our plans and schedule, schedule, schedule. As Elena begins her last semester of Kindergarten, my heart can’t help but ache over the challenges we continue to face. School has been such a blessing to her and to our family, but the missing piece, finding Elena’s voice, has proved increasingly difficult. She was doing really well for some time, with some basic communicative skills. Whether it’s frustration, stubbornness or her telling us something (by not communicating, ha…does that make sense?), something has changed and has left us all scratching our heads. I know this is one of those things where it’s totally out of our control. And what we can control, we (and her team) are doing everything possible but it seems like I mutter this prayer all day every day. Please God, help us to find my little girl’s voice.
I carry the weight of that every day. And even though I trust that this will happen, this prayer will be answered…the waiting is the hardest part. To 2018 I look. I look ahead with hope that this is the year it will happen. It reminds me of a song, “I will look back and see that you are faithful. I look ahead knowing you are able.” I know it’s true. I’ve lived it the last six years on our journey with Elena. So, I cling to it entering a new year with new possibilities and hope, hope, hope.
Whatever you’re carrying into 2018, either with a heavy heart or one full of hope, we all have our burdens and struggles. There’s always hope. Even if it seems impossible (hello, getting a non-verbal child to communicate?!?). Even if you have no idea where you’re going or what path to take (um, me too). Even if the burden is so big, you want to give up or walk away from it, everything is possible. Hang on to hope. I know I am.
I took this picture yesterday (thankfully I was cut out). The boys and I cuddled up in Elena’s bean bag watching a show. I snapped the selfie, went back to look at the picture, and that’s my girl. I could’ve chalked it up to coincidence. I could probably google some photography lingo to explain why the beam of light was captured. But I know. I know how my heart has been feeling. And I know God uses all kinds of ways to encourage us and quite simply, my heart needed encouraging. I needed to be reminded that she IS a light. That she IS a living example of God’s love, mercy and hope. Her struggles are enormous, our struggles as her parents are sometimes enormous, but He is faithful and able and I both have lived that and believe it. And her brothers, who love her unconditionally and who are oblivious about her differences is an example of how we should see everyone as perfect as they are, make me so proud. I have hope that they’ll grow up to be advocates for her, love her, care for her and be changed because of her. One little picture, so much hope. Cheers 2018.